A former long-time BCNDP MLA and cabinet minister has announced that he will join the newly renamed B.C. United, citing concerns with his former party’s direction.
Harry Lali, a Merritt resident, served as the BCNDP MLA for Merritt’s previous riding, Yale-Lillooet, during the 1990s, and from 2005 to 2009. In 2009, he was elected in the new riding of Fraser-Nicola. He was defeated by Liberal Jackie Tegart in the 2013 and 2017 elections, and failed to win the party’s nomination in the riding in 2020.
In December 2020, according to BCNDP officials, he was expelled from the party for undermining the party’s Indigenous candidate, and putting his interests ahead of other party members and British Columbians as a whole. In a statement, Lali said the BCNDP has ‘little to no interest’ in rural B.C’s issues and challenges.
“The BCNDP that I proudly represented in the Legislature could historically be relied upon to look after all regions in a fair and balanced manner. Not any longer,” said Lali.
“Today’s BCNDP has become an urban-interest party. Having only a handful of rural MLAs, the BCNDP has little to no interest in the issues and challenges facing small communities – i.e., insufficient doctors, ER closures, mill closures, access to services, lousy roads, etc.”
Lali noted that he approves of the new B.C. United look and direction, adding that he will become a member of the party led by long-time friend Kevin Falcon. He also plans to offer his advice on labour, forestry, and rural B.C. issues to B.C. United.
Read the full text of Lali’s statement here:
I was born and raised in Rural Punjab in India. I immigrated to Merritt in Rural BC 57 years ago and I still live there. I am a former IWA-Steelworker. I financed my university education by working in lumber mills across BC. For the past 9 years, I have been working as a Consultant in the Forest Industry. I am proud of my small-town rural heritage and the rural way of life. When I served 4 terms as an NDP MLA and as a Minister of Transportation and Highways I was an unabashed champion of small, resource-dependent communities, and continue to this day.
The wealth created by forestry, mining, agriculture, ranching, fisheries, hydro-electricity, oil and gas, etc., has benefitted all British Columbians, rural and urban. Over the last few decades, the fast-growing urban centres have grown richer, while small-town BC suffered. Much of the blame lies at feet of governing parties of all stripes that allowed this injustice to occur. The BCNDP that I proudly represented in the Legislature could historically be relied upon to look after all regions in a fair and balanced manner. Not any longer.
Today’s BCNDP has become an urban-interest party. Having only a handful of rural MLAs, the BCNDP has little to no interest in the issues and challenges facing small communities – i.e., insufficient doctors, ER closures, mill closures, access to services, lousy roads, etc. They’ve allowed sawmills and pulp mills to shut down by the dozen, and workers have lost their livelihoods by the thousands due to inaction. By contrast, downtown urban cores have become overcrowded, congested, unaffordable and unliveable. The BC government should be looking at innovative ways to bolster the small-town economy and provide incentives for urban folks to relocate there, thus alleviating pressure on cities. Unfortunately, Rural BC has no voice in this government.
I will be joining the BC United Party as a Member. I like the new name. Kevin Falcon and I have been friends for almost 20 years: a friendship based on mutual respect and trust. Honesty, equality, fairness and hard work are values my parents passed on to me. I know Kevin Falcon, and those are values that he also holds in high regard. Having been in government in the past, Kevin knows what will work and what will not.
I like the new direction Kevin Falcon is taking the BC United in. He is expanding his universe to include people from the Centre and Centre-Left as well; people like me. Kevin Falcon cares about small business and about the working people of this province. Kevin Falcon cares about the economy and rebuilding the neglected infrastructure in every region of British Columbia, including Rural BC. I have travelled all over the province in the last few years and hear from people all the time. Every day people are excited about the positive direction Kevin Falcon is taking BC United in. British Columbians trust Kevin Falcon. I trust Kevin Falcon. I will be offering my advice on Labour, Forestry and Rural BC issues to BC United.
I have a lot of good friends in the BCNDP government and in the party. I wish all of them and Premier David Eby, too. I carry no ill-will toward any of them. However, I have not been a BCNDP Member since December, 2020. I firmly believe that the best interests of resource-dependent, small-town Rural BC – and British Columbia in general – will be best served by a Kevin Falcon-led BC United government after the next election.